Aconcagua January 1st, 2006
Aconcagua 2005-2006 My thoughts and dreams
January 6, 2006, Camp 1, Aconcagua, Argentina. 16,000 feet. Thoughts.
I am overwhelmed with voices in my head telling me to pack up and leave.
“There is nothing left to accomplish here.”
“You have done it all before so many times. If you are looking for approval look no further than yourself.”
“Who really cares.”?
Then I remember J.D.
I force myself out of the tent and go and visit Laurie and Guy. I have to change the mind set. This solves the problem. A few minutes of conversation about this and that and the voices are gone.
You train all year and sit at your desk thinking about being where you are now. The sound of the roaring rivers. The wind. The stars the solitude and silence. Then when you are actually there, you find yourself thinking of home. Its a paradox. Somebody slap me.
My dry cough was making some people nervous. For this reason I have a tent all to myself. They were worried that I had a cold and would pass it on to them perhaps spoiling their summit attempt. While Laurie tried to reassure them that it is the dry air, that I always have this dry hack on Aconcagua, I was given the single tent. Initially puzzled by this feeling of being in purgatory, I try and make it work to my advantage. It’s much easier to organize yourself when it’s only your gear in the tent. Certainly more private with the pee bottle.
January 6, 2006, Mitchell's meadow, Aconcagua, Argentina. 9,500 feet. Dreams.
“ I am dressed in my hockey equipment, but the schedule has changed and I can not seem to find the rink”
January 7, 2006, Camp 1, Aconcagua, Argentina. 16,000 feet. Dreams.
“ The dog runs through the fence and waits by the moving train. Somehow it picks its moment and climbs under the moving cars. Then he waits and exits the other side the same way. I expected to see the dog cut in two or horribly mangled. Some how it makes its way back to me. It’s my dog.”
December 31, 2005, Horsefly camp, Aconcagua, Argentina. 12,000 feet. Thoughts.
“ First it’s a vulture, then it’s a hawk… no wait it’s a duck. This is more difficult that you would think. I am not very good at this yet.”
Shaman’s say the more animals you see in the rock faces and hills, the more in tune with the area you are. As the days go by many animals and faces present themselves to me from the sidelines. Mostly Inca profiles. But the giant raven on the way to camp 2 is a great example. I did not see it the first carry, but it was in good form on the second.
“ Moving aside the rocks carefully I look inside. Yes the feather is still there.
On my last trip, Jose and Lena, two people from New Mexico on the trip gave everyone an eagle feather for us to carry and place as an offering to the area’s spirits. It was hoped that it would ensure the success of each member’s goal on that trip. As it turned out it did not help anyone achieve the summit that year. But we did all get home safely. When I had placed it here in a cairn I had simply asked that every get what they had come here for. Now after 2 years I asked that it help guide everyone to the summit including J. D. who was not on the trip. The cairn I made is about 2,000 feet above Horsefly camp. 3 hours out of Plaza Argentina.
January 8, 2006, Camp 2, Aconcagua, Argentina. 19,000 feet. Dreams.
“ I am ready to go play hockey. When I get to my car I find all my gear spread out all over the inside of the car. Somehow while I am gathering it all up. The car disappears. But now I am being offered a ride by one of the other players on my team. But then as I am picking up my equipment my ride leaves, rolling down a hill with the driver hanging out of the car with the passenger door wide open. Now I must make it to the rink on my own. I decide to ride a bike that is nearby. It’s mid-winter but I head off on the bike just the same with my hockey bag draped over the handlebars. Halfway down the hill I realize I have no hockey stick.”
January 8, 2006, Camp 2, Aconcagua, Argentina. 19,000 feet. Thoughts.
“ The freight train is relentless. The wind pounded us on our way up all afternoon. I ask for help from the spirits of the four Argentine climbers whose memorial is just around the corner. If you could only have the wind ease up while we set up out camp. They oblige.”
Shaman’s say that you should not be afraid to ask for what you need at a particular moment. I have started to use this technique. It seems to work more often than not. When our camp was all set up the winds returned for the night.
January 9, 2006, Camp 2, Aconcagua, Argentina. 19,000 feet. Thoughts.
“ The wind continues to pound our little camp. I go for a walk in the afternoon and place some rocks on the grave. Each year I add some more. I am not sure if the group will be going to try for the summit in the morning. Some of them are not feeling 100%.”
I am getting restless and do not wish to stay too long at camp 2. In the past I have spent some miserable nights here. If you are not feeling great it is not a good place to recover. The harsh environment works on you, destroying your moral, making you question your commitment to the job at hand. Namely climbing this peak.
I am feeling well. Better than expected. I had slept well the night before. Actually not feeling any effect of the altitude. I begin to ponder going to the summit by myself to use this window of feeling good to my advantage. I decide that I will make my decision in the morning. I frankly do not want to stay for 2-3 days here just to stay with the group, then not go to the summit due to bad weather and perhaps moral. Also I wanted to do the summit on January 10th. There was a very good reason for this.
Perhaps being in the tent by myself has given me more of a sense of isolation, not being a real part of the group. In actual fact I am not really part of anything on this trip. Or perhaps I was part of something bigger than I cared to admit.
I was supposed to be doing this trip starting late November. Events got in the way of that trip. My partner and client had to postpone this due to a large business deal he was brokering. While we had planned this trip for more than a year, this deal had surfaced in the interim. It would mean three years of constant work for him so it was understandably too big to pass up. We re-scheduled for January 4, 2006.
But in early December my partner, J. D. went to see his doctor for a regular visit. After some tests were done, he found out that he had cancer. While it was diagnosed early, a very positive thing, a growth on his lung would have to be removed. A serious operation. This meant the trip was off for him. But all thoughts of this had evaporated with the sobering news. Surgery was scheduled for January 10, 2006. Our focus now became getting better. The mountain could wait. Or so I thought. J. D. approached me with an offer. Since we had our fight tickets and all our food was done and packed, he wanted me to consider going and getting the summit for both of us. Our mutual friend Laurie Skreslet was leaving with a small group December 26th. I could join up with them and therefore not be doing it solo. The only condition would be that I would still agree to go back with him at another time and do this mountain together.
I took a few days to consider. I called Laurie to see if I could join them. When he said yes. I then agreed to go.
So January 10, 2006 became a focus for me. The same day as J.D.’s surgery.
Before I fell asleep. I asked again for good weather so we could all do it together the following morning. When I awoke at 4:00 am. They had listened once again.
10 hours later the six of us, Laurie, Guy, Peter, Ted, Beverly and I along with J.D. were celebrating on the summit.
Back at home J. D's surgery was a success. A real reason to celebrate.
Small photo album of the trip.